Home Care Seeks Tickets Into ACOs

Amid consolidation and changing payment structures across the health care system, home care agencies are searching to prove their value and find their place. Data collection is one starting point, and a forthcoming accreditation process may be another.

Board members of the Private Duty Home Care Association (PDHCA), a member-based organization that serves as an advocacy group and resource for the private duty home care community, urged that home care providers will have to underscore the importance of their services in order to succeed as the health system shifts.

“Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and changes in provision of services, we’ve been slow to be invited to the table on accountable care organizations (ACOs),” Pat Drea, COO of Visiting Angels and chairman of the PDHCA board, said last week at the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) annual conference in Nashville.

For home care agencies to get invited to the table, they need to be able to prove their value in a changing health care landscape, PDHCA board members agreed. Currently, regulations for private duty home care vary between states and not all providers are able to collect and compare health care data across the same platform. When it comes to forming partnerships with hospitals and health systems, data will be the No. 1 requirement for integration and referral sources.

Another way to underscore value is through an accreditation process that may help health system partners understand an industry standard, according to PDHCA board members.

“It’s a concept related to quality all those other entities understand,”said Lucy Andrews, CEO of California-based home care agency At Your Home and PDHCA board member. “Licensures vary too much. We need a national standard of quality and integrity.”

PDHCA representatives said home care agencies will be able to apply for their accreditation early next year. There will be two levels of accreditation available for applicants: a basic level based on a self study and a second level with a more rigorous process.

The total cost to agencies will run about $3,000. By comparison, other accreditation processes can cost around $8,000, according to Andrews. While the PDHCA does not yet have a timeline for the process, Andrews called it “pretty quick.”

The application will involved assessments of patient volume and remote face-to-face interviews with staff. The entire process will be done mostly online.

Written by Amy Baxter